March 10, 2016
by Ariel Adams
One of the ongoing “current collection” models from star independent watchmaker Kari Voutilianen that we haven’t covered much yet is his more basic VINGT-8 timepiece collection. This is Kari’s three-hand watch with a subsidiary seconds dial that is about thematically offering a look of vintage pocket watch dials (that often had this same layout). The Voutilainen VINGT-8 watch is often customized for the client or simply rendered in special ways as Voutilainen and his team like to experiment with colors, textures, and styles.
The most notable unique element on this particular version of the Voutilainen VINGT-8 are the two-tone hands. It is not totally unique, but a very rare model. Produced in-house, the hands on this particular version are stunning, offering the look of blued-steel for the rings and connection points, as well as orange for the shafts and arrows. What is also worth noting is that the construction of the hands is very complicated, as the blued elements are in steel while the orange-painted elements are in gold – so in addition to the coloration, the two materials need to be carefully welded together. Aside from the use of luminant on other hands (no luminant here), two-tone hands are quite rare. In addition to the allure of the technique and style of these hands, they also offer superior levels of legibility.
Of course, if you aren’t particularly keen on these hands, you can have more traditionally designed blued steel or gold hands. Other distinguishing elements on the dial include the particular style of machine guilloche engraving for the face and use of Roman numeral hour markers. The latter isn’t so much unique, but it should be known that Voutilainen offers either Arabic or Roman numeral hour markers for the Voutilainen VINGT-8 collection.
Simplicity mixed wit a lot of dial decoration is really what most Voutilainen watches are all about. Rich with textures and finishes, the solid silver dial of this particular Voutilainen VINGT-8 watch shows how art combines with classic legibility elements for something that really speaks to the heart of why collectors appreciate high-end watches of this ilk. Kari and his team produce most of the watch in-house, and there is typically a long list of back-orders for the brand’s timepieces. In fact, this particular watch is likely already owned, and because Kari has so few pieces in stock ever, part of his deal with clients is likely that he can show the watch off a bit before final delivery to the end-customer.
I am typically into larger timepieces, but the thickness and chunky proportions of this 39mm-wide case feel very right to me. Of course, it goes without saying that 40mm-wide-and-under watches tend to be much more comfortable given their size. The “water drop” style lugs also help enhance the sense of size in the watch. In 18k white gold, the case has the right amount of heft to it and feels very good on the wrist. If you want a “classically proportioned” luxury dress watch, there are few options out there that will satisfy more than something like the Voutilainen VINGT-8 or something else out of the Voutilainen collection.
Inside the Voutilainen VINGT-8 watch is the in-house-made Voutilainen caliber 28-109 manually wound movement. Beautifully hand-finished and displayed through the sapphire crystal exhibition caseback, there are a few features other than the meticulous decoration that make this movement special. Most notable is the use of double escapement wheels. With a system unique to Voutilainen, the balance wheel has two escapements versus one as power is slowly and carefully released from the mainspring to the gear train. The idea here is to offer a more precise level of power regulation to result in improved accuracy. In addition to Kari’s lovely hand-polished balance wheel bridge (as well a proprietary balance wheel design), you get an excellent view of the regulation system in the 28-109 movement overall. The movement further operates at 3Hz (21,600 bph) and has about 65 hours of power reserve. Aside from the jewels, mainspring, and hairspring, all components of the movement are produced in-house by Voutilainen.
Classy and beautiful, the Voutilainen VINGT-8 is a wonderful and timeless watch design that further benefits from a range of aesthetic differences between the various pieces that are produced. I am not saying that no two VINGT-8 watches are the same, but when ordering a timepiece like this from a small-production independent watchmaker, it is almost part of the experience to get at least a few design features “bespoke” to your liking. Price for the Voutilainen VINGT-8 watch is 72,000 Swiss francs. voutilainen.ch